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Repetition Blindness

In some situations people are poor at detecting repetitions. For example, when asked to read the the triangle above, people often say "rocks in the street" ignoring the repeated "the".

One of the most common procedures used to study repetition blindness (RB) is to present words rapidly one after another on a computer screen and ask participants to report the words shown. Interestingly, when this procedure is used (known as rapid serial visual presentation or RSVP), RB is observed even if missing the second word causes an ungrammatical sentence. For example, if shown "When she spilled the ink there was ink all over" in an RSVP sequence people report having seen "When she spilled the ink there was all over" missing the second occurrence of "ink" (Kanwisher, 1987). The finding that people are "blind" for the second occurrence of a repeated item in an RSVP stream has generated debate as to its cause. Since this phenomena was originally reported numerous experiments have been conducted examining the nature of this effect. RB has been examined using words, symbols, pictures, numbers, etc. One finding from these experiments is that the way in which people are cued to report their answers influences the magnitude of RB.

Some Related Publications

Neill, W. T., Neely, J. H., Hutchison, K. A., Kahan, T. A., & VerWys, C. A. (2002). Repetition blindness forward and backward. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28, 137-149.